DISCLAIMER: My goal with this post, as with any faith related post, is to be descriptive of my journey and not prescriptive for anyone else. This is purely what I have experienced and conclusions I’ve come to for myself. I’m putting it out here in hope that it helps anyone who is going through, has gone through or had similar thoughts, ideas or experiences. I’m not trying to persuade anyone to believing what I believe. I am simply offering my perspective. I’m still on the journey as I believe we all are.
It was the first time I cried in 14 years.
Yes, maybe there is something wrong with me that I don’t cry much.
I tear up occasionally, but this time, the tears fell.
I couldn’t fathom the idea of a certain friend in my life going to Hell.
This person is a good person, they just don’t believe in Jesus.
They’ve pretended to at times or at least participated in church stuff for seasons.
But deep down, it doesn’t make sense to them.
And because of that, they will apparently burn in Hell for eternity.
Those are incredibly high stakes.
Believe and you’ll be rewarded with the eternal delight of Heaven.
Don’t believe and you’ll be punished with the eternal fires of Hell.
It almost literally couldn’t be any more polarized.
It creates a comically lopsided choice.
To hedge any bets, it seems like one should choose to believe in Jesus to avoid Hell.
If you’re wrong, so what?
If you’re right, you avoided Hell.
This, coupled with a disappointment in how the church has treated real life human beings who are transgender or homosexual, was the general thinking that first gave me the courage to question God.
It was emotional, I was confused and I set out to find answers and hopefully some clarity.
Thus began my “deconstruction”.
I didn’t know that word at the time, only in the rear-view mirror can I see what happened.
Deconstruction is a word used to characterize and describe the piece by piece investigation, trial and sentencing of a fundamentalist-type faith.
That’s what I attempted to do.
I read, listened to podcasts, and asked questions in an attempt to reconcile what I understood as Christian teaching with how I saw and experienced the world.
First, I started looking at the Bible.
And this kind of unravelled the whole thing for me.
I’d been taught that the Bible was inerrant and the perfect word of God.
It turns out its a bit messier than that.
Historical criticism and a different approach to the Bible had me rethinking the black & white doctrine and interpretations I’d understood to be true.
Mixed with a little bit of scientific reading about the beginning of our planet and how our brains work, I dismissed the idea of a literal God who is three distinct beings somehow intertwined in one literal being.
So now, I’m stuck in an interesting place.
I know that Christianity works because I’ve experienced it for the last 28 years.
I just don’t know if its literally true.
I’ve said before that Christianity has shaped and refined my character and who I am as a person.
I like the idea of calling myself a practicing Christian but not a believing Christian.
I know there are some logical hurdles to jump through with that understanding, but it helps at this point.
I obviously haven’t landed.
I believe the deconstruction is essentially over, but the harder part is just beginning.
How does reconstruction work?
I’m not sure.
How do engage with Christ and his teachings in a meaningful way? Or do I?
How do I understand the big questions humans have asked for thousands of years?
How do I live on a day to day basis?
These seem to me, to be the most important questions we can ask.
I’m committed to the search.
Even when it’s hard.
As 76ers fans will appreciate, I will “trust the process”.
Sometimes the old must die in order for new life to be possible.
I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere.
I’m on the quest to experience it.
P.S. Someone helping me navigate this journey is Richard Rohr. He’s a Franciscan monk who has written many books and has some helpful sermons and teachings on the Youtube. Here is one of my favorites: “Christianity and Unknowing“.